Over 2000 rifle, pistol, and shotgun shooters will converge on Granada, Spain, later this week for the 51st Annual ISSF World Championship. This prestigious event, the biggest multi-discipline, multi-national shooting competition on the planet, kicks off on September 6th and continues through the 20th. Actual competition begins September 8 as athletes take to the line in Air Rifle, Free Pistol, and Trap.
America will field a strong team of 81 athletes (28 rifle, 23 pistol, 30 shotgun) representing 37 states. Team USA includes 15 past Olympians. Per usual, there is a large military presence on this USA Shooting Team with 15 USAMU members from Fort Benning, Georgia.
With more than 2,000 competitors set to compete, the Shooting World Championship is by far the biggest shooting event every quadrennium and the competition will be intense with the start of Olympic qualification and 64 quota spots available. Two times more quota spots will be available at this World Championship than in any other competition in the period leading up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
In terms of demonstrating actual shooting superiority, the World Championship stands alone for its prominence and competitiveness. At the 2010 World Championships, 35 nations finished on the podium of the 50th ISSF World Championship in 2010 from Munich, Germany. The People’s Republic of China finished atop of the medal standings, securing 21 Gold, 20 Silver and 11 Bronze medals, while Russia followed in second with 21 Gold, 13 Silver and 12 Bronze medals, for a total of 46 awards. The United States finished third in the medal standings with 11 gold, six silver and seven bronze for 24 medals. The U.S. also set four World Records during the 50th World Championships.
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While many folks enjoy the convenience of an electronic powder scale/dispenser such as the RCBS Chargemaster, some hand-loaders still prefer to use a traditional balance beam. Balance beam scales are simple, compact, and don’t suffer from electronic “glitches”. Morever, even if you use a digital dispenser at home, when you’re doing load development at the range, a balance-beam scale may be more convenient. A scale doesn’t require electrical power, so you don’t need to bring battery packs or string long power cables. Just bring some kind of box to shelter your beam scale from the wind.
While designs like the RCBS 10-10 are decent performers as built, they can be made much more precise (and repeatable), by “tuning” of key parts. Forum member Scott Parker optimizes a variety of popular beam scales, including the Ohaus 10-10 (USA-made model), RCBS 10-10 (USA-made model), RCBS 5-10, Lyman M5, Lyman D5, and others. You send Scott your scale, he tunes the key components, tests for precision and repeatability, and ships it back to you. The price is very affordable ($65.00 including shipping in USA).
Scott tells us: “I have tuned several 10-10s. They all have turned out very sensitive, consistent and hold linearity like a dream. If only they came that way from the factory. The sensitivity after tuning is such that one kernel of powder registers a poise beam deflection. For repeatability, I remove the pan and replace it for the zero 10 times. The zero line and the poise beam balance line must coincide for each of those 10 tries. I then set the poises to read 250.0 grains. I remove and replace the pan 10 times with the calibration weight. For linearity, the poise beam balance line and the zero line should coincide within the line width. This is roughly one half a kernel of powder. For repeatability, the poise beam balance line must return to that same balance point ten times. I then adjust the poises back to zero and recheck the zero. I have a master’s degree in chemistry, thus I am very familiar with laboratory balances. Email me at vld223 [at] yahoo.com or give me a call at (661) 364-1199.”
The video above, created by British shooter Mark (aka 1967spud), shows a 10-10 beam scale that has been “tuned” by Scott Parker. In the video, you can see that the 10-10 scale is now sensitive to one (1) kernel of powder. Mark also demonstrates the’s scale’s repeatability by lifting and replacing a pan multiple times. You can contact Mark via his website, www.1967spud.com. To enquire about balance-beam scale tuning, call Scott Parker at (661) 364-1199, or send email to: vld223 [at] Yahoo.com.
Video tip from Boyd Allen. We welcome reader submissions.
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The Hots Shots TV show was broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus). This show followed four competitors — three shooters and an archer — as they trained for, and competed in, matches around the country. One of the featured shooters was 3-gun and revolver ace Jerry Miculek. Here’s a sample from Episode 4 of Hot Shots. In the video below, Miculek explains how he prepares for a major match — in this case the Steel Challenge, held each year in Piru California. Jerry explains: “Put in some practice, but don’t get burned out. You don’t want to have your best runs on the practice range. I want to try to wait for the match… staying a little hungry for a good performance.”
NBC Sports Network assembled some of the best shooters on the planet for the Hot Shots series: Jerry Miculek, K.C. Eusebio, Patrick Flanigan, and Randy Oitker. Miculek, an expert with rifle, pistol, and shotgun, has won 14 International Revolver Championships and is a top 3-Gun competitor. Our Friend K.C., formerly with the USAMU, was the youngest USPSA Grandmaster at the age of 12. Patrick is a world-class shotgunner who has re-defined the world of exhibition shooting. Randy is a true phenom with bow and arrow, having won over 17 National Pro Archery titles.
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Ernie Bishop, USA dealer for SEB Coaxial, offered this story about teaching a young boy how to shoot — passing on the heritage of marksmanship to the next generation. Ernie was working with an 8-year-old novice. With Ernie showing him the ropes, the young man was able to make hits at 1440 yards!
Teaching a Young Man about Long-Range Shooting, by Ernie Bishop
I was able to do some coaching with an eight-year-old boy shooting distance with a Savage 6.5-284 rifle (factory 1:9″-twist barrel), 3-12X Huskemaw scope, and MAC brake. Chuck McIntosh was helping as well. I can’t wait to see how this young man develops as a shooter. It was a real pleasure coaching him.
Click for Full-screen Photo
We ended the day’s shooting session with the young man making multiple connections at 1440 yards with the Savage rifle (top photo). We were very proud of this young man. During our session, the young shooter also fired a suppressed 300 Remington Ultra Magnum. The boy made managed a first-shot connection at 500 yards on a 5″ square target.
Click for Full-screen Photo
The next day I brought a couple of Specialty Pistols for our young marksman to play with. The photo shows a rear grip XP-100 with McRee chassis, chambered in .284 Winchester for 168gr SMKs. The young man went out to 850 yards with this after he got bored with 10″ targets at 400 and 500 yards (he never missed at 400 and 500!).
Click for Full-screen Photo
We ended up having switchy winds, which made things more difficult, but still fun. We also shot at 750 yards with the 6.5-284 bench pistol.
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In today’s economy, Free is good. Here’s a list of older shooting books that can be downloaded for FREE from Google Books. This list, created by German Salazar, includes many classic treatises on marksmanship that still have value for today’s competitive shooters. In addition, we’ve included illustrated firearm histories, such as Townsend Whelen’s fascinating book, The American Rifle, and The Gun and its Development (9th Ed.), by William Wellington Greener.
In the list below, the title link will take you to the Google Books page for each book. You can read the entire book online, or you can download it to your computer as a PDF file* and save it (or print it). You can also create your own Google Library and save the books there for access from any computer.
*To download a book, first click the title from the list above. Then, once you’re at the Google book site, look for the icon that looks like a gear in the upper right-hand corner. Click that and a pull-down menu will appear. Select “Download PDF” from the menu — this will bring up a security question to make sure you are a human. Respond to the security question correctly and your normal download prompt will appear. Choose a location to hold your new e-book, and click “save”.
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Forum member Alex W. (aka “zfastmalibu”) came up with a clever adaptation of an item you may already have on your kitchen counter. By drilling a few strategically-placed holes in a wood knife-holding block, Alex created a handy, 20-round ammo holder for the bench. We’re not sure the wife will appreciate the new holes in her kitchen accessory, but we think this is a smart invention. Alex asked fellow Forum members: “What do you think, is there a market for it?” We think there is. Of course, with a ruler and an electric drill you could probably make your own version easily enough.
Get a Solid Wood Knife Block for under $20.00 Beechwood Knife blocks can be purchase for just $19.99 through Amazon.com. They are also available in solid walnut wood ($29.99), cherry wood ($29.99), and Bamboo wood ($29.99).
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“Where is all the .22LR ammo?”, “Where did all the rimfire ammo go?” — it seems that litany is all we hear these days. We’ll here’s something to quiet those voice of discontent.
Grafs.com currently has quality 40-grain SK-brand .22 LR ammo in stock. You can get a 500-count brick (10 boxes) ammo for $56.99 (Item #: RSK420101B). Or you can get a 500-round can of 40gr ammo for $54.99 (Item #: RSK420121). There is a limit of 1000 rounds per customer per ammo type (i.e. a customer may order no more than two bricks of boxed ammo, AND two 500-count cans). If you want to sample other types of SK rimfire ammo, individual boxes of SK “High Velocity”, “Rifle Match”, and “Subsonic” ammo are also in stock at Grafs.com (with prices about $8.50/box).
SK rimfire ammo is made in Europe. SK Standard Plus is not benchrest-grade ammo on a par with Lapua Midas+ or Eley Tenex. However it is much, much better than most general purpose rimfire ammo. SK Standard Plus is good enough to win a rimfire tactical match — we can attest to that from our own experience. This is much better than bulk-pack fodder (if you could even find that).
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For the next four (4) days, Harbor Freight is offering some very attractive Coupon Specials. First, with the coupon below, you can get 20% off the purchase of ANY item on HarborFreight.com or sold in one of the Harbor Freight stores. Interested in a big-ticket item? Then use your 20% off coupon.
Along with the 20% off coupon, Harbor Freight is offering some handy items for FREE with any purchase. Grab a free LED flashlight for your range bag, or pick up a free power strip for your loading bench.
If you need a general purpose bench with drawers, Harbor Freight has a great deal right now on a metal-framed, lighted utility bench. With Coupon Code 73007230, this bench, normally priced at $149.99, is just $79.99. NOTE: We don’t think this workbench is strong/rigid enough to serve as a primary reloading bench. However, it CAN serve many functions in your loading room, such as holding gun-cleaning cradles, vibratory tumblers, annealing machines, and general reloading gear. The built-in overhead light is a nice feature. And there is a full width shelf on the bottom which is good for holding shipping boxes and other items that are bulky (but not too heavy).
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The February 2013 edition of Shooting Sports USA magazine has an interesting feature by Glen Zediker. In this Transporting Success, Part I article, Zediker explains the advantages of loading at the range when your are developing new loads or tuning existing loads. Glen, the author of the popular Handloading for Competition book, discusses the gear you’ll need to bring and he explains his load development procedure. In discussing reloading at the range, Glen focuses on throwing powder and seating bullets, because he normally brings enough sized-and-primed brass to the range with him, so he doesn’t need to de-prime, re-size, and then re-prime his cases.
Zediker writes: “Testing at the range provides the opportunity to be thorough and flexible. You also have the opportunity to do more testing under more similar conditions and, therefore, get results that are more telling. Once you are there, you can stay there until you get the results you want. No more waiting until next time.”
Zediker starts with three-shot groups: “I usually load and fire three samples [with] a new combination. I’ll then increase propellant charge… based on the results of those three rounds, and try three more. I know that three rounds is hardly a test, but if it looks bad on that few, it’s not going to get any better.”
Glen reminds readers to record their data: “Probably the most important piece of equipment is your notebook! No kidding. Write it down. Write it all down.”
There’s More to the Story…
Editor’s Note: In Zediker’s discussion of loading at the range, he only talks about throwing powder and seating bullets. In fact, Glen opines that: “there is little or no need for sizing.” Well, maybe. Presumably, for each subsequent load series, Zediker uses fresh brass that he has previously sized and primed. Thus he doesn’t need to de-prime or resize anything.
That’s one way to develop loads, but it may be more efficient to de-prime, re-size, and load the same cases. That way you don’t need to bring 50, 80, or even 100 primed-and-sized cases to the range. If you plan to reload your fired cases, you’ll need a system for de-priming (and re-priming) the brass, and either neck-sizing or full-length sizing (as you prefer). An arbor press can handle neck-sizing. But if you plan to do full-length sizing, you’ll need to bring a press that can handle case-sizing chores. Such a press need not be large or heavy. Many benchresters use the small but sturdy RCBS Partner Press, an “O-Design” that costs about $79.00. You may even get by with the more basic Lee Precision Compact Reloading Press, shown in Zediker’s article. This little Lee press, Lee product #90045, retails for under $30.00.
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When a rifle isn’t shooting up to it’s potential, we need to ask: “Is it the gun or the shooter?” Having multiple shooters test the same rifle in the same conditions with the same load can be very revealing…
When developing a load for a new rifle, one can easily get consumed by all the potential variables — charge weight, seating depth, neck tension, primer options, neck lube, and so on. When you’re fully focused on loading variables, and the results on the target are disappointing, you may quickly assume you need to change your load. But we learned that sometimes the load is just fine — the problem is the trigger puller, or the set-up on the bench.
Here’s an example. A while back we tested two new Savage F-Class rifles, both chambered in 6mmBR. Initial results were promising, but not great — one gun’s owner was getting round groups with shots distributed at 10 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 5 o’clock, 8 o’clock, and none were touching. We could have concluded that the load was no good. But then another shooter sat down behind the rifle and put the next two shots, identical load, through the same hole. Shooter #2 eventually produced a 6-shot group that was a vertical line, with 2 shots in each hole but at three different points of impact. OK, now we can conclude the load needs to be tuned to get rid of the vertical. Right? Wrong. Shooter #3 sat down behind the gun and produced a group that strung horizontally but had almost no vertical.
Hmmm… what gives?
Well each of the three shooters had a different way of holding the gun and adjusting the rear bag. Shooter #1, the gun’s owner, used a wrap-around hold with hand and cheek pressure, and he was squeezing the bag. All that contact was moving the shot up, down, left and right. Shooter #2 was using no cheek pressure, and very slight thumb pressure behind the tang, but he was experimenting with different amounts of bag “squeeze”. His hold eliminated the side push, but variances in squeeze technique and down pressure caused the vertical string. When he kept things constant, the gun put successive shots through the same hole. Shooter #3 was using heavy cheek pressure. This settled the gun down vertically, but it also side-loaded the rifle. The result was almost no vertical, but this shooting style produced too much horizontal.
A “Second Opinion” Is Always Useful
Conclusion? Before you spend all day fiddling with a load, you might want to adjust your shooting style and see if that affects the group size and shape on the target. Additionally, it is nearly always useful to have another experienced shooter try your rifle. In our test session, each time we changed “drivers”, the way the shots grouped on the target changed significantly. We went from a big round group, to vertical string, to horizontal string.
Interestingly, all three shooters were able to diagnose problems in their shooting styles, and then refine their gun-handling. As a result, in a second session, we all shot that gun better, and the average group size dropped from 0.5-0.6 inches into the threes — with NO changes to the load.
That’s right, we cut group size in half, and we didn’t alter the load one bit. Switching shooters demonstrated that the load was good and the gun was good. The skill of the trigger-puller(s) proved to be the limiting factor in terms of group size.
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We know that many of our readers have never seen a “Hammerhead” benchrest stock before. This is a design with an extra wide section in the very front, tapering to a narrow width starting about 6″ back. When paired with a super-wide front sandbag, the hammerhead design provides added stability — just like having a wider track on a racing car. Some folks think mid-range and long-range benchrest stocks can only be 3″ wide. Not so — IBS and NBRSA rules now allow much wider fore-ends. While F-Class Open rules limit fore-end width to 3″ max, there is not such restriction on IBS or NBRSA Light Guns or Heavy Guns for 600- and 1000-yard competition. Here’s a 5″-wide Hammerhead design from Precision Rifle & Tool (PR&T).
Ray Bowman of PR&T sent us some photos of another hammerhead benchrest rig. Ray reports: “Precision Rifle & Tool this week finished and delivered this BR rifle. The customer will be shooting this rifle at the 2014 IBS 1000-yard Nationals in West Virginia.” [The match runs August 29-30, 2014 at the Harry Jones Range]. This IBS Light Gun sports PR&T’s “Low Boy Hammer Head” stock in red/black laminate. Other components are a 6mm BRUX 30″, 1:8″-twist barrel, Borden BR Action, and a PR&T 20 MOA scope rail.
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How would you like to get an exclusive Leupold-logo jacket? From September 1 to October 15, 2014, Leupold will send a limited-edition Carhartt jacket to everyone who buys an American-made VX-3, VX-3L or VX-6 riflescope. OFFER Details.
This distinctive, made-in-USA jacket will only be produced during this promotion and will not be available for sale anywhere. “Leupold is a uniquely American company,” said Bruce Pettet, CEO and president of Leupold & Stevens, Inc. “We’re proud of that fact and want to celebrate the American employees who design, machine and assemble our riflescopes right here in Beaverton, Oregon.”
The Leupold Warranty — As Good As It Gets
Those of us who own Leupold scopes (this Editor has four), know that the company stands behind its products 100%. The Leupold Full Lifetime Warranty is justifiably famous. For the life of the product Leupold will either repair your Leupold product or replace it free. No escape clauses, no BS. And warranty coverage is not limited to the original owner. I’ve had Leupold fix “previously owned” Leupold riflescopes no questions asked. That’s a great reason to trust in Leupold.
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